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Families & the Community

Infants Give Moms a Brain Boost

By Sarah D. Sparks — October 21, 2010 1 min read

As someone who has yet to take the parenting plunge, it’s nice to find out I might get a brain boost for becoming a mom.

According to research published in the latest issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, Pilyoung Kim, a neuroscientist then with Cornell University and Yale University School of Medicine, led a research team that performed brain imaging on 19 women giving birth at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut.

They found that three to four months after giving birth, the women had more gray matter in areas of the brain associated with motivation, reward mechanisms, sensory integration and reasoning and judgment. The new mothers who were most positive about their newborns also had the biggest brain gain. Gray matter is associated with learning, and other research has shown people have a lower ratio of gray matter after childhood; adults normally don’t see this kind of brain bump unless they have to adapt to major brain injury, illness or substantial learning.

The researchers are following up with studies on whether dads and adoptive parents will also show this brain increase.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.